Monday night the arboretum at Saint John’s offered its annual Owl Hoot, a lecture on the owls in Minnesota. So after dinner Isaac, Stephen, Jack, and I headed over to participate. The boys did very well sitting through the 1 1/2 hour lecture. Here are some of the facts we learned about owls:
*They have four toes, two point forward and two backwards, but they can move one of the back toes to the front if they want to.
*They have crooked ears, allowing them to always discern which direction a sound is coming from. They also have excellent hearing, so much so that they can hear an animal moving under the snow and catch it without ever seeing it.
*It is from owls that we get the term bird brain. Their eyes are so large they take up most of the room in their skulls, allowing only for a small brain crammed to the back of the head.
After the lecture came the part the boys were most excited for–a nighttime walk in the woods to see if we could hear any owls answer our calls. It snowed on Monday and was snowing even as we walked. We didn’t have any success hearing any owl calls other than the recorded one we played, though some of the boys say they heard one flying. (They missed the part in the lecture where we learned owl feathers are very quiet.) But in spite of the failure of the owls to respond the evening was a success, highlighted by running and throwing snowballs at each other on the walk back out of the woods to the van. And today, when they saw a picture of a Great Horned Owl and heard the call when we were at the zoo, they recognized it right away.